TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer. Since many people couldn't take advantage of the long weekend last year because of COVID-19, officials are anticipating many residents to go out into the community to have fun.
Health officials expect people will be taking advantage of the holiday in a number of ways — barbecues, fishing trips, kayaking, and have social gatherings. Officials advise people to keep as many gatherings as possible to the outdoors so people can keep their distance.
“If you look at the lack of or the reduction in overall viral illness that we saw in the community because of the precautions we were taking for COVID I think that you can probably extrapolate that a lot of it is just increased social mixing in indoor environments with less circulating air,” said Dr. Joshua Kern, chief medical officer for St. Luke’s Magic Valley.
People also enjoy traveling during Memorial Day since it is a long weekend. Officials encourage people who travel this year for the weekend and throughout the summer to do research about your destination and see what COVID-19 guidelines or protocols are in place.
“If you do go into a new community, you should investigate their own local rules," said Brianna Bodily, the spokesperson for the South Central Public Health District. "Some communities have been hit a lot harder by COVID-19 and they still have mask mandates in place, testing requirements, quarantine requirements to make sure that their community is protected.”
Health officials are again encouraging people to follow the current CDC guidelines as well.
“If you’ve had the vaccination, they’ve moved towards an open up stance and they would continue to maintain that people practice precaution and wear masks in social gatherings if you have not been vaccinated,” said Kern.
Now that more people are continuing to get vaccinated and are more likely to head outside, the health district is anticipating and hoping that disease transmission rates remain low.
“What we’re expecting over at the health district is to continue to see a low rate of disease in our communities," said Bodily. "Unless people start congregating in large concert venues with a lot of unvaccinated people or something like that where you’re encouraging the spread of disease. That’s where we’re likely to see a surge start back up again.”